HOT|COOL NO. 4/2018 - "Emerging District Heating Markets"


NEEDS BEFORE TECHNOLOGY There was nothing coincidental about DEVO’s choice of communication technology. “We deliberately chose a solution that was dedicated to our needs and based on a proven technology – that was key for us. Smart city systems are not always based on proven technology and there are many different stakeholders involved. We don’t need to be able to steer traffic lights with our system. Our number one priority is our customers.” As DEVO upgraded to fixed network meter reading and the newest radio technology at the same time, they had to change the communication modules in their meters. Nevertheless, René Prop expects that the additional investment of going from basic to frequent and intelligent meter reading will have paid for itself in three years’ time: “We did a test with five to ten houses and everybody was happy with the result. We then had to change the communication modules but that was a 5-minute job and we had to go into the houses anyway. The whole area could be covered with just three antennas, so financially it was a no brainer for us.” ANALYTICS AND BEYOND By 2025, DEVO’s supply area is expected to hold 3,000 houses compared to 1,150 today and with more and more houses connected, knowing the exact network performance will only become increasingly relevant. DEVO is therefore preparing to continue their journey up the smart metering value chain with innovative analytics enabling data-driven optimisation in a more efficient and cost-effective way. René Prop sees great potential regarding future investments in the design and planning of DEVO’s distribution network: “With the information we have from the existing system, the engineering companies we work with will have a much better basis for designing our future system.” To him, the main benefit from digitalisation is clear: “More than anything else, digitalisation gives us speed. Instant knowledge. And the faster we learn, the better we can perform.” TODAY’S CHOICES DEFINE TOMORROW’S OPTIONS Knowing where you want to end up is one thing. Knowing how to get there is another. But rather than fixing your gaze on the destination, focus should always be on the next step. For district heating utilities about to invest in the next generation of metering systems, perhaps the most important thing is therefore to make sure their choices today will leave all doors open for them further down the road – while creating as much value as possible each step of the way. DEVO’s journey is a great example of that.

René Prop explains that frequent data also helps the company optimise their distribution: “We have been able to change several valves to optimise the pressure in different areas so that we produce heat more efficiently, but still deliver the same amount of heat to our customers.” ENHANCED END-USER ENGAGEMENT Frequent meter data has also enabled DEVO to become more proactive in how they approach their customers. “We monitor our system closely so whenever we spot irregularities we can quickly find the cause and notify our customers – often before they themselves realise something is wrong,” explains René Prop. Going forward, DEVO plans to focus even more on engaging their customers and consequently helping them save both energy and money: “We will be implementing an online system where our customers have access to their own data. This will give them insight into their consumption patterns, so they can take responsibility for changing them.” This effort directly addresses the challenge of convincing consumers to give up their free choice of supplier to be part of a collective system based on an efficient and sustainable energy source. “The environment is one thing, but in our experience, people also want to avoid the hassle of an individual heating solution and of course a key incentive is their wallets.”

Steen Schelle Jensen, For further information please contact:

Photo: DEVO

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